Move the teaching a bit further
Andrea Rashovska, student of the fourth year of general medicine, had run for the Academic Senate of the First Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University among other things because she cannot stand being idle. There are several subjects she wants to take up in the Senate. Teaching at the Faculty has, according to Andrea Rashovska, a great potential and its future development should suit and benefit both the students and the teachers. She would like to make teaching more effective, support further development of the Centre for Medical Simulations, and improve working conditions for student tutors.
What made you run for the Faculty Academic Senate?
My position as a year representative put me close to both the teachers and students as well as the Senate, especially the student part of it, and I liked our collaboration. Most of the students were from the higher years and already working on their state examinations, and I realised that my colleagues would soon leave the Faculty and therefore also the Senate. So, someone had to replace them. I considered my candidacy for a long time, hesitated a lot. But my friends encouraged me, and it is true that I cannot stand being idle, I would communicate with the senate anyway. So, I thought to myself: Why not try to be one of them?
What does a ‘campaign’ for the Academic Senate look like and what subjects did you run with?
First of all, all candidates had to present their election programme to the prescribed extent. I wrote down the things I wanted to change. I did not do any research but based it on what was important to me. From my point of view, the teaching at the Faculty has tremendous potential and as technology evolves, it can be taken a step further. I would like to see teaching become more effective, the simulation centre and simulation medicine itself to develop and, of course, communication between students and teachers to improve. It was important to me that the changes should suit and aid the work of both parties.
I would like to try to increase the inclusion of practical procedures in teaching already during the first years of study of general medicine. After the first three years of medical school, which are theoretical, medics do have a considerable amount of knowledge, but they also feel that their practical skills are lacking. Related to this is, for example, support of the Medical Simulation Centre and involvement of student tutors in teaching. The conditions for student tutors should improve, though, for example by allowing them to excuse their absence by tutoring. Although this has improved in the last year, there are still noticeable gaps.
As we speak, you have two Senate sessions under your belt. How did they affect you and did you have to adjust your expectations in any way?
The first session was more of an appointment session. It was not until the second session that some real negotiations took place. We are the largest medical school, but that does not mean that we do not have a friendly environment here. The Chair of the Senate, Professor Koziar Vašáková, was also the proposer of one of the agenda items at the second Senate meeting, which means that I, as the Vice-Chair of the Senate, had to lead the meeting at that moment. I was slightly nervous, but the atmosphere was friendly enough, so everything went smoothly.
I think all of us new members were a bit naive. There were a lot of proposals for change and certainly not everything can be changed as quickly as one would like. Before the second meeting, we had an unofficial get-together, mainly with representatives of the student part of the senate but some academics as well. We presented our plans to each other and summarised them into points which we sent to the Senate committees. Even in doing this, about half of our points were merged with others or moved back as less of a priority at the moment. We will try to address as many of the proposed points as possible during the term. All senators are passionate.
What points raised by your colleagues have caught your attention?
I would definitely include the support of internationalisation of the Faculty as well as the support of motivation of teachers, and not only new ones. In general, the Senate’s programme will in the coming months deal with improving the quality of teaching. But it is also important to keep in mind that teachers must be motivated to teach and to pass on their know-how to us. The working conditions of university teachers is a subject discussed by the general public. As far as medical doctors are concerned, it is more or less not worth their while to have an additional position at the Faculty – and that should be improved. Internationalisation of the Faculty is a topic for a longer conversation, but it is clearly something that should be addressed.
Are eventual changes to the curriculum also being discussed?
These would possibly be discussed mainly in the pedagogical committee. Still, we are thinking about how we could expand practical instruction for instance in the second year, which is less full than either the first or the third year. This could help students in the higher clinical years, who go from placement to placement and everywhere the lecturers try to impart as much knowledge as possible. The informational pressure is enormous and there is no time to get a good feel for everything in practice. This leads to situations where some people learn the basics, which they could already know, only in the later years. Thanks to the elective course Nursing in Simulations for Practice, students can acquire similar skills earlier, but must want to do it – and I am sure that not everyone will try it out.
If one wants to, one can get a lot of things in medical school, but that does not mean that students who do not practice in hospital, aside from school, or those who do not take elective courses, that they do not want to learn. There is a lot that we absolutely must learn during our studies, and some people may not have enough energy or time to include anything on top of that. We all manage differently.
As you mentioned above, you were elected Vice-President of the Senate. What does this entail and how does the election process work?
I will be the right-hand woman of Professor Koziar Vašáková, who is the President of the Senate. We work together on the programme plan for the upcoming session, I give her feedback from the student part of the Senate and in her absence, I chair Senate meetings. I am also in close contact with the Dean, Professor Vokurka. This position brings a bit more responsibility and administrative duties. The Senate elects its own chairman and vice-chairman at the first meeting. The chair is elected first, and if the person elected is from the academic part of the Senate, the vice-chair is elected from the student part, and vice versa.
If you were to recommend the First Faculty of Medicine to high school students, what would you tell them?
First, I would highlight the cutting-edge science and medicine we have here at the Faculty. Thanks to this, students can acquire really outstanding knowledge. One should also definitely mention that although the First Faculty of Medicine is the largest medical faculty in our country in terms of student numbers, we have a really friendly environment. But after all, many teachers manage to dispel any such apprehension already during the first classes of the first year. Care is taken to make sure that we become good medical professionals, but the human aspect of the profession is also not neglected.
Do you know what you would like to do after graduation? What specialty?
I would like to focus on sports medicine. I work as a medic in the football club Bohemians Praha 1905, and I really enjoy it. Sports medicine is great in that it has something for everything. The focus is multidisciplinary, it covers both a part of cardiology and for instance orthopaedics. After graduation, I am considering doctorate studies.